4 Ways to Approach Continued Education for Learning New Skills

The only thing more daunting than realizing your skills haven’t caught up with the times is taking the leap to improve them. After years in the workplace, not everyone operates with the same learning mindset from their youth.

To succeed in the fast-paced, ever-changing business world of today, however, you have to embrace adaptation. Rather than carry around a fixed idea of what you can and cannot do, challenge your ability to grow with a growth mindset.

Continued education as an adult doesn’t have to equate with the traditional classroom model. Here are a handful of ways you can approach learning something new.

Don’t Underestimate the Value of Soft Skills

When we talk about soft skills, think in terms of the following:

●     Critical thinking

●     Communication

●     Leadership

●     Positivity

●     Teamwork

These are just a sampling of generalized skills you’ll find valuable as a small business owner. Because of the generalities, the path towards improving them can also seem unclear. It’s less about taking a class or getting certified in “good communication” as it is about practice.

In the realm of communication, for example, improving your ability to share and discuss ideas could involve taking on more public speaking opportunities. You could also think outside the box (and outside of work) by taking an improv class or starting a podcast.

Seek out feedback from your peers to better understand potential areas of improvement. Oftentimes, when you improve in one soft skill area, you’re also benefiting another — these are characteristics that’ll never go out of style.

Consult with a Mentor

Teacher, tutor, mentor — no matter the label you use, these are all people to learn from. If you’re currently working with a mentor, you may have already discussed ways in which you both hope to benefit from each other.

Alternatively, maybe your relationship is a bit less formal. Regardless of how you’re working together, the onus is on you to maximize the time you have with a mentor.

Before every meeting, set an intention. What do you hope to walk away having learned? What insights need to be tapped? Create a list of questions and go in ready to be — soft skills alert — an active listener.

Explore Online Certifications

Maybe you’re someone who appreciates a bit more structure, or needs to learn something very specific. In these instances, an online certification might be more up your alley.

Some popular ones you’re likely to have heard about include:

●     Learning to code through freeCodeCamp.org

●     Learning how to collect and analyze website data through Google Analytics Academy

●     HubSpot Academy for certifications in Inbound Sales/Marketing, Social Media, and more

●     Developing cloud expertise with AWS Certification

Outside of these, check out platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare, and Coursera.

Go Back to School

In times of uncertainty or recession, you’ll usually see a surge of people go back to school. View it as an opportunity to change course and better prepare yourself for a more prosperous tomorrow.

As an adult, the reality is there’s never a right time per se to drop what you’re doing and pursue a new career field. It’s going to be tough no matter what — but no tougher than staying fixed in place and hoping for the best. Each situation comes with its own set of worries. Only one comes with a clear sense of agency and forward movement.

By Staples Canada

August 24, 2020

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